Fee-Free TAFE a big hit in the Hunter

The Federal Minister for Skills and Training wants to see the Fee-Free initiative with TAFE NSW extended beyond the 12-month trial because so many people have decided to upskill in jobs for the future.

New figures show that about 65,000 students have enrolled fee-free with TAFE NSW since the initiative was introduced earlier this year across NSW.

The Australian Government partnered with the NSW Government to invest $319 million as part of the 12-month Skills Agreement to deliver up to 120,000 Fee-Free TAFE and vocational education places in 2023.

Some of the courses that students are enrolling in include building and construction, cyber security, mechanical engineering, early childhood education and care and electrotechnology (electrician). Some of those courses can cost upwards of $8,000.

Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor was in the Hunter today to meet with students and teachers at the Tighes Hill TAFE campus and said the initiative has saved students thousands of dollars in course fees.

“Fee-Free TAFE is focused on identified priority courses in areas of skills shortage right now. These courses will lead to jobs needed most by employers in the state’s economy.

“We also know that clean energy industries are the future for our workers, and include solar installation, large-scale renewable projects, electric vehicles, green hydrogen and renewable manufacturing.

“That’s why the Australian Government is spending $95.6 million over nine years to support 10,000 New Energy Apprenticeships. There are currently 6.635 apprentices in training in the Hunter, including New Energy apprentices who commenced from 1 January 2023, who can receive up to $10,000 over the course of their apprenticeship to assist with the cost of living.”

Carl Dodd is an 18-year-old from Newcastle who is undertaking a Certificate III Electrotechnology at Tighes Hill TAFE and said he is really enjoying it.

“I like the hands on aspect of it.

“I’d like to finish this off and do some electrical engineering. Ampcontrol is a good company to do that with because they cater for that and you can expand your career path and do whatever you want.

“Everyone will have to pivot and change.

“TAFE is a good start for me, to get my foot in the door in the renewable sector,” Carl said.